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Even as questions were raised over the transfer of the big-ticket Vedanta-Foxconn Project to Gujarat, the state is set to get one more tranche of assistance from the World Bank. The global bank's executive board of directors has approved a loan of $350 million to the state of Gujarat for spending on healthcare services. The package will be specially focused on adolescent girls and disease surveillance.

"This program will enhance access to traditional health services while supporting the state's effort to open access to new ones, such as mental health and palliative care, thus contributing to improved health outcomes for the people of Gujarat," said Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank's Country Director for India.

International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the funding arm of the World Bank sanctioned the loan for 18 years including  grace period 5.5 years.

The state government's Systems Reform Endeavours For Transformed Health Achievement In Gujarat (SRESTHA-G) Programme will facilitate the utilization of the loan. It will enable more people to access a wider range of high-quality health services.

The state currently provides seven kinds of health services to its citizens, including reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The World Bank funding will help the state expand into areas like mental health and palliative health services. The state also intends to strengthen non-communicable services in the state.

On one side, when the state has a lot of achievements in its basket with improvement in several health indicators including reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, even then 69% of adolescent girls and 36% of adolescent boys suffer from anemia in the state.

Besides, around 10% of the rural and 5% of the urban population of the state suffer from issues of mental health.

World Bank said SRESTHA-G will lay special focus on improving the health and nutrition of adolescent girls and boys with priority accorded to 14 districts where more than 70% of adolescent girls are anemic.

Local Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM) will also support the population-based screening process for more effective implementation.

The state will also encourage people with high risk of non-communicable diseases to go to their assigned public healthcare provider which will also facilitate surveillance building of the state for early detection of disease outbreaks.

"Gujarat has a robust system of health service delivery at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels," said Rahul Pandey and Andrew Sunil Rajkumar, the Task Team Leaders of the SRESTHA-G Programme.

World Bank will also ensure more accountability in the health sector with the help of public reporting and will also implement annual health assemblies or Swasthya Parishad to improve citizen engagement in the sector.

It will spearhead the 'one health' agenda, including combating antimicrobial resistance, World Bank said.


With Inputs from agencies.

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